This article was originally published on September 16, 2021 in Washington, D.C.'s Best Lawyers 2022.
As the threat of COVID-19 remains at the forefront and the possibility of widespread variants lurks around the corner, it does not diminish the other hardships people have had to endure this past year. Unemployment, remote education, and nationwide political tension aside, in times like these people look to their local government, authorities, and medical officials to have their well-being in mind. Specifically, in places like Washington D.C., there has been a recent surge in cases of negligence, all on the medical front, which have been overshadowed by the pandemic at large. Below we highlight three different cases recently fought in the Washington D.C. courts which demonstrate that, despite the rights we often assume to be granted, things are always different in the eyes of the law.
Crum v. Federal Bureau of Prisons
As incarcerated individuals, few rights are afforded, but rights to medical and dental services when sick or injured are still inherent to all inmates. David Crum, a federal prisoner at the District of Columbia Court Jail, alleges his medical rights were infringed upon when he was transferred to a different corrections facility in Beaver, West Virginia. Due to his various medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and an ongoing liver infection, Crum should’ve been placed on medical hold. Crum claims his life was put in “direct danger” when prison staff failed to send his medical records pre-transfer. As a result of this mishap, Crum was wrongfully subjected to numerous medical tests and illegally held under falsified prison documents. He sought $50,000 in compensation for negligence, but the claim was eventually denied due to lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Young v. United States Department of Labor
Under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA), families are entitled to compensation after the passing of a relative due to illness contracted on the job. For Shannon and Kevin Young, sons of a former Department of Energy employee, this should have been the case. After being exposed to unsafe amounts of radiation for years, their father developed prostate cancer and passed away. When the family went to file for compensation, they were subsequently denied on the basis that there was a “less-than-even” chance their father passed due to radiation exposure on the job. The DOE claims that the standard “radiation dose reconstruction” test, a test administered to all energy-based workers as an estimated gauge of their radiation exposure levels, was the responsibility of the Department of Health and Human Services under EEOICPA and was never properly conducted in Young’s stint as a DOE contracted employee. The Young family sought $150,000 in compensation for negligence on the DOE and HHS’s behalf. Despite insufficient radiation data attained by the HHS, the claim was eventually denied, and the HHS was never held liable.
Kaul v. Federation of State Medical Boards
Previously licensed to practice medicine in New Jersey, Richard Kaul’s medical license was later revoked in 2014 when he was caught illegally performing spinal surgery, without proper training or experience, on eleven different patients, an act that blatantly constitutes medical negligence, malpractice, and incompetence. Kaul claims these accusations are all a baseless conspiracy and are the amalgamated efforts of his “medical rivals” to “permanently eliminate him from the practice of medicine anywhere in the world.” Additionally, the end goal of this conspiracy, in Kaul’s assessment, was to ensure that insurance companies are unable to pay him for services rendered. After attempting to sue 30 different individual medical boards and companies, Kaul’s efforts turned up unsuccessful. He is currently seeking $28 trillion in damages but faces 15 counts of medical malpractice and misconduct, with each of the eleven cases bearing a $20,000 fine.
Disclaimer: All above cases summarized from full case documentation on Justia.